Our exhibits are designed to educate visitors of differing interest levels, from the casual browser to the serious student of medical history. The exhibits range in topic from early frontier life and the life of osteopathy’s founder Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, to the early years of the osteopathic medical profession, its first school, and their subsequent development throughout the late nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries.
Visitors enter the Museum through Heritage Hall, a two-story glass atrium that serves as the east entrance to the Tinning Education Center. This large space features two of the museum’s largest artifacts—the Still Family Cabin and the First School Building of the American School of Osteopathy (ASO). Both contain photographs, artifacts, and sensor-activated audio systems that respectively present interpretive glimpses into the Still family’s frontier life and the earliest years of the ASO. The cabin, built in Lee County, Virginia in the 1820s, and the two-room ASO building, used from 1892-94, were both moved to their present location in 1994 as tangible reminders that Kirksville is the birthplace of the osteopathic profession.
The main portion of the Museum, located directly adjacent to Heritage Hall, features three main exhibit galleries.
The main gallery primarily houses exhibits relating to the history of the profession. It also contains a fully-dissected human nervous system—one of only four such dissections known to exist. One of the two secondary galleries, the Grayson Smith Period Room, is a reproduced Victorian house parlor that showcases the personal property of A.T. Still and his family. The Johnston Gallery—currently under development—will add several hundred square-feet of new exhibit space.
The main gallery exhibits include:
- Treatments and Practices examines osteopathy’s origins as an alternative to early nineteenth-century orthodox medical practices, such as bloodletting and blistering. The exhibit also presents some of the other common alternatives utilized at the time in which osteopathy developed.
- In Skilled Hands features an array of osteopathic treatment tables, manipulative treatment aids, and other equipment developed by and for osteopathic physicians during the first half of the twentieth-century.
- Form Meets Function displays a wide variety of surgical instruments from the museum’s collection.
- The Cranial Concept highlights Dr. William G. Sutherland and his development of cranial osteopathy, and features two of Dr. Sutherland’s unusual research “helmets.”
- Despite the Body of Evidence is a six-part exhibit that traces the history of western anatomical study from ancient Greek medicine to the present. It features a widevariety of anatomical illustrations and dissection-related artifacts, along with a history of body-snatching, a full-sized transparent anatomical mannequin, and a brief history of the ASO’s anatomy department.
- The Museum also maintains a series of smaller exhibits that showcase artifacts relating to various aspects of the osteopathic profession.
- The Historic Medicinal Plant Garden, located just outside Heritage Hall, features a wide variety of shrubs, trees, and perennials grown for medicinal use by early American physicians. They are presented in a modern landscape that also includes a small fish pond, seating areas, a picnic table, and interpretive information.
The interior exhibits are open to the public six days a week, free of charge. See the Hours, Directions, and Contact tab for more information.